What is P2P and A2P messaging?

Discover the key differences between P2P and A2P SMS and find out which one is better for your business.

Senior Content Marketing Specialist

Razan Saleh

Senior Content Marketing Specialist

If you’re looking to start using SMS as a channel for customer communication, you need to understand A2P and P2P messaging. You might have heard these terms before, but understanding the difference will help you choose the best option for your business.

What is A2P messaging

Application-to-Person (A2P) messaging is any kind of text message received through a software application instead of another person.

A2P messages are generally high-volume automated messages sent through a communication platform for informational and transactional purposes. These can be sales or marketing messages, appointment reminders, automated messages through chatbots, and two-factor authentication (2FA) through one-time passwords (OTPs).

A2P messages can be defined as:

  • One-way or two-way
  • Automated or integrated into a communication platform
  • Conversational, informational, or transactional

The main goal in A2P messaging is to reach as many people as possible, not necessarily to get feedback. For example, if a Business with a large customer base wants to launch a new promotional marketing campaign, they can use A2P bulk SMS as one of their promotional channels. In this case, this type of communication would be one-way, as no response is required from the receiver.

In other cases, however, the communication can be two-way, if the A2P message was sent for transactional or conversational purposes. A good example of this would be to process a payment or schedule an appointment.

Currently, the A2P market is valued at $65.7B, and it is projected to reach $86.7B by 2027.

What is P2P messaging

P2P SMS, or Person-to-Person messaging, is a basic text message exchange between two people through a mobile network. These are messages or private conversations we have with our friends and family. In other words, P2P messaging is more personal communication rather than commercial-related.

Mobile network operators (MNOs) usually act as the bridge that connects people through SMS.

However, in some countries, application-based communication may be permitted. For example, two people texting through native mobile apps would almost always be P2P SMS. Unless these two people were messaging through some API, it could be P2P or A2P.

In the US and Canada, P2P messaging is strictly defined by Telecom regulations and does not include any application-based messaging.

P2P messages are generally identified through the following key aspects:

  • Two-way
  • Used by individuals, not by businesses
  • Conversational only

A2P vs. P2P: Which is best for your business?

The key difference between P2P and A2P SMS is their purpose and send volume. P2P SMS is used for personal reasons, often between one sender and one recipient. A2P, on the other hand, is used for commercial and marketing purposes and can be sent to many mobile users or customers at once.

Other differentiating factors include:

  • Delivery channels: A2P messages are delivered in bulk through SMS, email, mobile apps, and chatbots. While, P2P messages are primarily delivered via SMS, instant messaging apps, or social media platforms.
  • Sender identification: P2P SMS messages are usually sent through an individual’s 10-digit mobile number or username. A2P messages, on the other hand, are sent from an organization to a sender ID, which can be a short code, 10-digit long code (10DLC), or a toll-free number.

Now that we know the difference, here are some key A2P use cases across industries.

  • Promotional marketing campaign
  • Appointment reminders
  • Security alerts and notifications
  • Bill payment confirmation

Communication technology providers built A2P SMS to handle large-scale messaging. For most businesses, A2P messaging will be the primary route for customer communication.

And if you’re not familiar with laws and regulations, A2P SMS might be a better and easier option for your business.

Looking for a reliable SMS provider?

Choosing the right SMS API provider can be tricky, but at Infobip, we’ll guide you every step of the way.

Oct 19th, 2023
3 min read
Senior Content Marketing Specialist

Razan Saleh

Senior Content Marketing Specialist